Nash heads south but the news was muffled by yacht racing hoopla and the promise of more state funding to keep Team NZ afloat

Our Beehive bulletin

Here’s good news from the Beehive for South Island tourism operators, desperate for an economic pick-me-up after their turnovers were shrunk by the closing of the borders in March last year.  More visitors are on their way.

Not many, mind you.  Just one Minister of the Crown and whatever entourage he might take to carry his bags.  But it’s the Minister the tourism operators most want to talk with:

South Island regions hardest hit by the closure of international borders are the focus of a visit by Tourism and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash over the next two days.

We don’t know how closely Nash’s ministerial colleague, James Shaw, monitors the emissions generated by political travel.  But Shaw and his officials do keep tabs on emissions pricing and have just announced the first auction of emissions allowances.

This news and news of Nash’s travels, alas, have been squeezed out of the big headlines by the result of a boat race in Auckland, which triggered a nationwide blast of ballyhoo and jingoism.

The Beehive was not immune.  Indeed, the PM and her team were so exuberant that they did not wait for a request before they announced they would invest more millions of our money in the next defence of the  America’s Cup.    

Among other news:

  • Finance Minister Grant Robertson said today’s GDP figures show the economy remains resilient and among the best in the world despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and reinforces the steps the government has taken to support the economy and secure the recovery. GDP declined 1 per cent in the December quarter of 2020, following a 13.9 per cent jump in the September quarter and 11 per cent fall in the June quarter.
  • A year after the first tranche of Learning Support Coordinators started work in 1,052 schools and kura, an evaluation report shows positive benefits for teachers, students and families.
  • Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson paid tribute to Miriama Rauhihi Ness, describing her death as the loss of a true wāhine toa and fighter for Māori rights.
  • The search for nominations for the TAB NZ Board (who was betting on this happening?) is being broadened.

If the volume of news media coverage is the measure, of course, the big news of the past 24 hours is Team New Zealand’s successful defence of the America’s Cup.

“Team New Zealand has once again made us all so proud by retaining the America’s Cup as New Zealand’s cup,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.  .

This would have warmed us for the news that taxpayers will be tapped for a few more million dollars for the experience to be repeated (all going well on the water) in a few years.

Stuart Nash took time out from packing his bags to contribute to the PM’s congratulatory statement and said:

“We want to see it all over again in 2023.The Government has already agreed that the successful America’s Cup team will be supported to stay together while it plans its next defence of the Auld Mug.”

And so Cabinet has agreed to invest in the team “from within existing budgets” (which means budgets dependent on a hefty increase in borrowing to balance the books).

A measure of the government’s enthusiasm to pitch in with another wad of public money is that no-one has actually asked her for it (not at time of writing, anyway)…

“Although no request for support has yet been made, Team New Zealand has received government assistance following every America’s Cup since 2003. I anticipate a similar request will be made this year.

“$136.5 million was set aside in Budget 2018 for Cup-related infrastructure and activities and not all of that funding has been spent. Cabinet has agreed in principle to use that under-spend, should it be required, to keep the successful team together while it plans and regroups for AC37.”

The final details are subject to negotiations, Nash said – but it is likely to be a similar sum to that paid after AC35 in Bermuda in 2017, when $5 million went towards the team to help it prepare for AC36 this year.

The visit to the South by Nash – which came next on Nash’s agenda  – is not extensive.

He will visit Southland and Central Otago “to discuss challenges facing regional economies”, and – more specifically – will travel to Te Anau, Invercargill, Queenstown, Arrowtown and Cromwell.

“I would like to hear first-hand from local mayors and councillors, small businesses, employers, community organisations and iwi about how they are responding to the impact of closed borders,” Mr Nash said.

“I also would like updates on the roll out of tourism support and infrastructure investment from the Tourism Recovery Package, Provincial Growth Fund and other sources.”

Does he really have to take this trip to find out?

Oh – and he reiterated that  mass-scale international tourism is unlikely before 2022, but the government is  working hard to open a Trans-Tasman bubble this year.

Nash reminded us, too, that the government had responded immediately with a $400 million support package for tourism last year. Wider support through wage subsidies, resurgence payments, and interest-free loans was available, too.

Background notes for editors spelled out some of the details of the cash grants and other financial help provided for businesses (the chosen ones) in the regions Nash will visit.

And he listed some of the companies which have benefited.

* Tourism businesses supported in Southland are: Doubtful Sound Cruises; Fiordland Expeditions; JUCY Cruise; Milford Sound Tourism; Real Journeys Milford Sound; Stewart Island Ferry Service; Te Anau Glowworm Caves; Te Anau Helicopter Services; Transport World; Air Milford; Southern Discoveries.

Tourism businesses supported in the Lakes and Central Otago districts include: TSS Earnslaw and Walter Peak; Cardrona and Treble Cone; Puzzling World; Ziptrek Ecotours; AJ Hackett; Outback NZ Nomad Safaris; Dart River Safaris; KJet; Wilkin River Jets; Wanaka River Journeys; Skyline Queenstown; Highlands Motorsport Park; Skydive Queenstown; Over the Top; True South Flights; Glenorchy Air; Alpine Helicopters; Southern Alps Air; Backcountry Helicopters;

Marketing and economic development agencies are: Destination Fiordland; Great South; Southern Lakes Marketing Alliance; Lake Wanaka Tourism; Destination Queenstown; Central Otago District Council.

While Nash was headed on a mission to mollify the South, the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw was announcing that “a significant milestone in New Zealand’s transition to a low carbon future”  had been reached with the first auction of emissions allowances.

Shaw reminded us that the Government had inherited an Emissions Trading Scheme that was failing to cut emissions and turned it into “one of the most effective tools New Zealand has for reducing climate-polluting emissions”.

We would have thought it was prudent to wait to see the results before making this proud boast, but hey.  Shaw – bless him – is an enthusiast.

Forty participants took part in the auction at which a total of 4.75 million New Zealand units were sold at a price of $36.00 per unit.

Auctioning to allocate units under the ETS was introduced as part of the changes the Government made to the scheme last year.

The process works by making a proportion of units (consistent with the cap on the ETS) available for purchase through a single round of auctioning, during which bidders submit a single bid at their preferred price.

“One of the best ways to support long-term investments in climate-friendly technologies is by ensuring the price of pollution in Aotearoa is consistent with meeting our obligations under the Paris Agreement and New Zealand’s own emission reduction targets.

“Auctioning will help to achieve that by translating the targets we have put in place into a price signal that drives much-needed investment into low carbon technologies,” James Shaw said.

Another statement to emerge from the Beehive since we last reported came from the office of Grant Robertson, speaking not as Minister of Finance (the bloke charged with keeping the public debt from burgeoning) but as Minister of Racing.

Yep.  Winston Peters’ old job.

As well as expanding the debt, he is expanding the search for nominations for the TAB NZ Board.

“The process to date has yielded some good candidates, but the selection panel has recommended that I broaden the search and I agree.”

The candidate might be ”good”, but not good enough, obviously.

Nominations have been received so far from the three racing codes: New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing, Harness Racing New Zealand and Greyhound Racing New Zealand.

Maybe they are hoping for a good nominee from among the ranks of the nation’s gamblers.

Robertson reminded us of the $72.5 million Racing Industry Support package put forward by his predecessor (“which is a considerable investment by the Government”).

Latest from the Beehive

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Focus on South Island tourism and regional economies

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Poroporoaki: Miriama Rauhihi Ness

One thought on “Nash heads south but the news was muffled by yacht racing hoopla and the promise of more state funding to keep Team NZ afloat

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